Could Do-It-Yourself HGTV Be Good For Me, Too?

Now, to be as honest as I aim to be, let me begin by saying that I started this post several weeks ago and, lo in this Christmas season, it got buried on my desk and in my mind by a hundred little tasks (and some big ones, too). But now, with renewed focus (as I hope you’ll read about in the paragraphs below), I will finish it! Come and sit in the library with me ~

As I sit in our library, my kind husband is in the adjacent room and has just finished watching two hours straight of do-it-yourself house flipping, house renovation shows! The overwhelming ideas always seem to be

“We’ll Take Out This Wall” and

“That Will Open Things Up”.

There’s no chance we’re removing any lath and plaster walls in our old house, but it made me think:

What would a re-do look like in my life and inside my heart?

What can I take out to open things up for more of God?

Hmmm… let’s think…

  • That used-to-be time spent exploring online could become typing out a letter that (hopefully) will encourage someone (like I pray this will be).
  • Grumpy, heavy sighs at red lights could become a “go” to admiration of God’s handiwork around me and praise.
  • Rather than wiping up the latest kitchen spill with exasperation, it could be done with thanksgiving for that floor, that counter, that stove, the food that made the spill.
  • The dreaded expression, “I have to wash the sap off the car,” could translate into, “I’m thankful for running water to wash the car that I’m blessed to have sitting beneath God’s beautiful handiwork of a maple tree in our back yard.”
  • Letting our dog, Teddy, outside yet again could remind me of his desire to do what is right as I applaud that and am encouraged.
  • And sorting and folding laundry or wrapping those Christmas gifts? Quiet moments for prayer for the owners and recipients.

It’s pretty humbling really. For two weeks (no, it’s three now!) I’ve intended to write a letter, but still it’s only a good intention. For two-become-three weeks I’ve been meaning to invite a couple over for dinner, but still haven’t picked up the telephone. How I am so apt to squander God’s generous gift of moments and time, days and nights? I have let the frantic pace of working in the holiday season become the ruling order rather than elevating the minutes open to praise and service and joy.

In Psalm 139, David sings a beautiful song of total submission to God.  In verse 16, he says,

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written,

every one of them, the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.”

HE KNEW THSE DAYS! (Every one of them!)

HE WROTE AND PLANNED THESE DAYS! (This day!)

And now that I’ve recognized that, I’ve no call but to submit to His will and go with prudence and faith through this day, however it falls.

So, here’s a letter of encouragement (I hope) finally completed and I’m off to make that telephone call (and will let our dog out again) before heading into work. Ahhh…life and lessons through the lens of serving Christ and glorifying God: a kaleidoscope of praise, service, perseverance, sanctification, and joy.

Enjoy the gift of this day ~ “in joy!”

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Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, and Love

How would you describe Christmas in two words? It’s not easy! It’s a question to which there is no one correct answer, I think, but a question worth pondering all the same.

Our secular world might answer Santa Claus, but they may not know his true beginnings as an actual bishop some 250 years after Christ. Yes, St. Nicholas (which morphed into the name Santa Claus) loved Jesus and loved children. When he came into a significant inheritance from his deceased parents, he found his greatest joy in giving small bags of coins to the poor, often silently depositing them in stockings or shoes drying beside a fireside. And can you guess a bishop’s attire for those cold, old winters in present-day Turkey? You guessed it! A red robe and hat, both lined with warm, white fur.

Many might sum up Christmas with “Christmas tree”. We must thank St. Boniface, an Anglo-Saxon missionary called by his love of Christ to the northern Germanic people in the 4th century. When he came upon their “Holy Oak of Thor” which these people worshipped, he seized the moment, seized an axe, and chopped down that tree—all to make a visual point about the supremacy of Christ. And it worked; they came to faith in Christ. Boniface then pointed to an evergreen tree, instructing the new believers to see its triangular shape as a diagram of the Trinity and pointing to heaven. Even more applicable, its EVER green nature was a visual reminder that Christ was EVER with them. And so it remains.

Two different men. Two different centuries. But there is a commonality there. Did you happen to notice their mutual and beautiful inspiration? Both were prompted by their love of Christ.

And that brings us to the true answer for what Christmas means: Jesus Christ.

May our love of Christ be the inspiration and impetus for all of our actions and attitudes this Christmas~whether addressing Christmas cards, wrangling our way through the department store to buy gifts, or patiently queuing up in the long lines at the grocery or post office. (Yours truly definitely needs a reminder of that attitude when wrestling with Christmas lights!) Our love of Christ is only made possible because of God’s love for us, made reality in the most beautiful and merciful gift we have ever received~Jesus Christ.

With love at Christmas to you, dear reader!

All Through the House…the Creatures WERE STIRRING!

IIMG_2673t’s DECEMBER!  Christmas! Family!  Festivities!  Joy!  And–if you’re like me and put TIMES on your calendar (do you see the 4th in the photo?) with no notice as to what or where it refers, MAYHEM!

We juggle dentist appointments, doctor appointments, photo appointments, school work, Christmas baking, Christmas cards, Christmas program practices, performances, concerts, food preparation, open houses, brunches, lunches, service time, worship time, laundry time, decorating time, gift shopping, gift wrapping, gift giving. Do you do any of that?! And let’s not forget vacuuming–especially necessary if you have a real tree and a fluffy dog like we do!

How do you handle it all? Does it work? I have a self-imposed rule that all preparation must be completed by the 10th of December–the first double digit day, my Christmas D-Day. All cards must be sent, all presents bought and wrapped, all commitments completed. Sadly, that rule often gets broken, but there’s an important reason I like to try to keep it.

Being done with preparation by the 10th means I have time–two full weeks–to enjoy Christmas! The dining room table, free of gift wrapping paper, scissors, tags, tape, boxes, and bows, is ready for Christmas dinner.  Christmas cards are already greeting friends and relatives far away, and I can savor each card that arrives with joy. I avoid the wild stress of last minute shopping and have the time to visit with people. There’s time to contemplate that Christmas star of long ago when I look up into the night sky when out with our dog. There’s time to read the prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth in Isaiah 9 and the fulfillment in Luke 1 and 2. There’s time to pause and drink it in, like my favorite tea…ahhh…Christmas…Unto us a son is born. Wonderful. Mighty God. Counselor. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Funny how vacuuming up fallen fir tree needles and dog hair doesn’t seem very important at all in comparison! (Maybe I’ll cross that off my list. You, too?) Whatever you decide, dear friend, let’s do something for sure. (And I promise to, too, even if the 10th deadline is a bust and my calendar remains mayhem.) Let’s pause and give God some serious time. Let’s wonder at Christ’s willingness to take earthly form. Heavenly deity as a baby in a manger who would save us from our sins on a cross. Let’s say with the angels,

                                         “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”

Happy Christmas!